Venezuela authorities say inmates started deadly jail fire

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Venezuela authorities say inmates started deadly jail fire
Yajaira Rojas shows photos of her late son Alix Eduardo Diaz, during his funeral at the Municipal Cemetery of Valencia, Venezuela, Friday, March 30, 2018. Weeping relatives arrived at the central cemetery on Friday carrying the caskets of many of the 68 victims who were killed in a police station fire to place them in a freshly dug mass tomb. Cemetery workers said they were prepared to bury at least 32 people two days after the blaze in three-deep graves separated by a layer of cinderblock. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan authorities say the blaze that killed 68 people in a police station jail likely started when inmates set fire to their mattresses.

The comments Monday by Chief Prosecutor Tarek William Saab were the first to suggest a cause for the last week’s horrific fire in the city of Valencia.

Saab told Union Radio that overcrowding contributed to the tragedy and promised that prison authorities will be held responsible even if they didn’t instigate the fire.

Five officers including the sub-director of the police station where the fire happened have been arrested.

All but two of the dead were detainees. Some family members of those killed have said their loved ones telephoned before the fire and said their jailers were pouring gas in the cellblock.